Ending a 20-hour-long ordeal, the six-year-old girl who went missing from Oyoor, near here, was found abandoned near Asramam Maidan in Kollam around 1.30 p.m. on Tuesday by her abductors who are still at large.
She was identified by a couple of college students who saw the unaccompanied child sitting on a bench.
“A woman and child were sitting there and suddenly the woman walked away. When she did not return, we went near the child and identified her with the help of photos on social media. The woman was wearing a mask and her head was also covered. The child too was wearing a mask,” said one of the students.
Also read: Oyoor child abduction case
The woman reportedly hired an autorickshaw from Link Road to travel to Asramam with the child.
According to some eyewitness accounts, a group of two men and a woman had tried to enter the Income Tax quarters with a child. The were denied entry by the security staff and the child was later found on the bench.
The child contacted her family from the phone of a person who was present at the maidan while waiting for the police team to arrive and later spoke to her mother and family through a video call from the AR camp.
Her father rushed to Kollam following the first call and her mother and brother joined them later. After medical examination, the girl is being kept under observation at a private hospital in Kollam.
According to officials, the joint efforts of law enforcers, media and public made it impossible for the kidnappers to travel with the child.
“The entire South Kerala was under close surveillance and all the borders were sealed. The police has been checking not just vehicles, but hotels, quarries, rubber plantations and shanties. The kidnappers were forced to leave the child safely due to the pressure from all parts. According to the child, she was taken to a house at night. She was fed and allowed to watch cartoons on a laptop. She was taken to Chinnakada in another vehicle on Tuesday morning,” said Additional Director General of Police M.R. Ajith Kumar.
The kidnappers had contacted the family on Monday first demanding a ransom of ₹5 lakh and then ₹10 lakh. Her parents were asked to arrange the money and the kidnappers were expected to contact them on Tuesday around 10 a.m.
But they received no call and within a couple of hours the child was found from the heart of Kollam city.